This is probably the reason the material is so commonly used in the aerospace and defense industries where strength, weight, and reliability are all prioritized. Vertically, you want some flexibility for shock and vibration absorption. It is also resistant to corrosion and fatigue. If the damage is minor, a simple patch can be used. Aluminum frames are generally welded, which makes them cheaper to produce. Keep up the good work. Carbon fiber has an incredibly high strength to weight ratio. When choosing between a carbon fiber or aluminum bike frame, the main differences come down to weight, durability, comfort, and price. This means that the head tube, downtube, top tube, and seat tube consist of one continuous piece. It’s also easier on the budget. For building bike frames, titanium is often alloyed together with aluminum and traces of other elements. The tubes need to be thicker near the ends where they experience more stress. Due to its inherent hardness, 7005 aluminum bikes feel rougher when you ride them. That is, you can’t identify butted frames by looking at them. When choosing a frame, you need to consider the types of parts that you want to install on it. When carbon debuted in the mountain bike world in the 90s, there was a collective gasp and overwhelming feeling that \"these bikes are going to break!\" That may have been true in the beginning, but it is no longer the case. A well-built titanium frame should last a lifetime. Much of the process can be automated. Having said this, if you crash hard enough, you can destroy an aluminum frame. Because aluminum is a relatively soft metal, the frame tubes must be fairly thick to make the bike strong and durable. These options gives framebuilders some control over the ride characteristics of the finished aluminum frame but they do need tomake some compromises. These are the cheapest due to their simplicity. The conventional wisdom in cycling has been that aluminum is stiff and harsh, while carbon is compliant and smooth. Interesting article with lots of good information. The material really offers the best of all worlds. Many manufactures offer complete 15 lb (6.8 kg) carbon road bikes. Brass and silver are common filler metal materials. If your frame is even slightly too large or small for you, you may experience joint pain or discomfort. How long your aluminum frame lasts depends on the type of riding you do, how you treat it, and the quality of the aluminum and welds. Because both frame materials are so light, the weight of the components also plays a major role. We’ll compare the weight, ride quality, handling, durability, cost, repairability, longevity, and more. In other words, making the tubes thinner where they don’t need as much strength. A dull sound means the area could be weakened. After all, it’s the cheapest bike frame material. A comparable metal frame may still be rideable after suffering the same impact force. For this reason, steel is a great choice for touring bikes and gravel bikes. For example, carbon fiber layup must be done by hand. Not every village has someone with the tools or know-how to weld titanium. Titanium frame tubes are welded together, just like steel or aluminum. If your frame fails while touring in a rural or developing area, finding someone to repair it can be a challenge. There are a few different alloys used in Aluminium bikes, with 6061 and 7005 being the most common. 7005 aluminum has a resistance to failure of 51,000 psi, compared to the 45,000 psi recorded for 6061 aluminum while also being more resistant to squeeze. Copyright 2021 - Where The Road Forks. For example, high-stress areas, like the bottom bracket, can be made incredibly stiff. This is probably the reason that the pros all use carbon frames these days. Several grades of carbon fiber are available. This means that you don’t have to worry about it weakening over time. For more info, check out this interesting article about how carbon frames are manufactured. For most riders, the weight difference is pretty insignificant. It can be hard to identify whether a dent is a cosmetic or structural issue. Bike frames are most commonly made of carbon fiber, aluminum, steel, or titanium. For me, steel is the winner. They usually come in steps of 2 cm. Each one is different. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. This lowers costs but increases the weight. You might have to sacrifice some comfort or efficiency. Mostly due to their heavy weight. The only bicycle frame material that rusts is steel. Carbon fiber, not being a metal, doesn’t rust or oxidize at all. I wonder how they achieve that weight? 6061 aluminium is predominately an alloy of aluminium and magnesium and is the most popular form of alloy used in bicycle frames. Problems arise when carbon frames experience a sudden impact force that is concentrated to a small area of the frame. Carbon fiber is a high tech material that gives framebuilders nearly unlimited options for fine tuning and optimizing the frame to their exact desired specifications. These tubes form to the mold. If you skip this step, the weld probably won’t hold. It offers an incredibly high strength to weight ratio. They can just take more of a beating. material has a set of distinct properties that suit different riding styles Contact. Most bamboo bikes are made by starting with strong bamboo poles then binding the joints together with fiber and resin. Steel is also easy to repair if it cracks. This material was initially developed for use in the aerospace industry where parts need to be as light and strong as possible. After riding for a few hours on either frame material, you would quickly grow accustomed to the feel and ride quality. Now, however, this wisdom is a bit outdated. The ability to repair my frame. And ( sorry – off topic but just sharing my experience ) don’t believe the hype about disc brakes being better, you really don’t need them unless you are doing mountain biking in rain and mud. Titanium is a favorite of custom frame builders. Mountain bikes often come in sizes small, medium, large, etc. The increased efficiency allows you to travel further using the same amount of energy that you would on a comparable aluminum frame. Carbon fiber is a difficult material to work with. I’ve done quite a bit of bouncing back and forth between carbon and aluminum rims of similar depths on a mountain bike. Designers realised that large diameter, thin-walled tubes made for immensely stiff bikes, but it was years before alloy bikes with real engineered-in comfort became a thing. Steel is affordable as well depending on the grade. Hi-tensile steel is a heavier and cheaper type of steel that is used to build lower-end bike frames. A lighter bike allows you to climb and accelerate faster and maneuver more easily because there is less weight to move around. The result is a more enjoyable ride that expands the opportunities for you to comfortably enjoy your aluminum frame. Modern aluminum frames are competitively light. Having said that, aluminum does corrode. Whether the frame is aluminum or chromoly is only part of the equation. Most of the drawbacks of steel have to do with performance. You also don’t want the frame to flex excessively and waste energy. More than ever, an aluminum bike is the only bike you’ll need for recreation, touring, training, and competition. If you’re on a tight budget, you’re probably better off staying away from carbon frames or buying used. Most carbon frames can’t accept racks and panniers because they put too much stress on the frame tubes. Share your experience in the comments below! Aluminum alloy frames offer a strong rigidity and are ofte… A note about accidental damage: One major drawback to carbon fiber is that it’s pretty easy to accidentally crack it. E.g. this article about recycling and reusing carbon fiber, guide to the different types of bike trailers, The Ideal Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking Tool Kit, Lighter weight because the material is stronger and less dense, Stiffer and more responsive. Carbon fiber handlebars have also been known to fail unexpectedly. For example, the process of hydroforming allows frame builders to vary the thickness of aluminum tubes throughout their length. The Best Folding Bike for Touring: My Pros and Cons List, Titanium is the most expensive. These sheets are then bound together with a glue-like resin. If you participate in a cycling discipline that is particularly demanding on frames, there is a good chance that your carbon frame will crack during an accident and fail prematurely. This means that the outside of the tubes are all uniform. Tip: Many manufacturers guarantee their frames for a certain amount of time. As the saying goes ‘steel is real’ In fact, it was the only modern frame option up until the mid-1970s when the first aluminum bikes became widely available. When repaired correctly, the frame is as good as new. Most budget bikes are aluminum. Check out this guide to repairing a carbon bike for more info. For example, you must decide: For me, steel is the winner. The frame is brazed to the lugs to hold the bike together. You’ll notice that they are almost all aluminum and incredibly cheap. Because aluminum is a weaker material than carbon fiber, you would expect it to be less durable. It can’t be simply melted down and reused like metals. A catastrophic frame failure is a possibility. The frame tubes themselves do not melt. When aluminum alloy gets exposed to moisture, a hard film of aluminum oxide forms on the surface. As of 2011, most mountain bike frames are made from steel or a mixture of metals known as an alloy. Where do you stand on the carbon vs aluminum bike frame debate? Top of the line aluminum frames weigh about a half of a pound more than carbon frames. Aluminum is often associated with lower end bikes. In fact, many manufacturers even offer a lifetime guarantee against defects. These are areas where tubes that were made separately during manufacture were stuck together. If the aluminum cracks, the bike is unsafe to ride because the frame could fail catastrophically without warning. Building a carbon frame also requires specialized molds and equipment that add to the cost. To be safe, it’s best to use a torque wrench and tighten everything to the manufacturer’s specifications. Corrosion isn’t really a concern with either carbon or aluminum frames. For most riders, the difference in ride quality is marginal. Mountain Bike Frame 26 27 5inch Aluminum Alloy Mtb Road Bikes Sho Philippines Should you choose a steel aluminium titanium or carbon road bike cc steel vs aluminum bike frames mission bicycle bike frame materials how to choose a carbon vs aluminum mountain bike frames the showdown gearlab. Having said that, bamboo is a legitimate bike frame material. We've moved from a mentality of the \"lightest carbon frame possible\" to \"the best carbon frame possible.\" With a switch of focus from light to durable and building carbon frames to withstand the abuses of a spe… Carbon Fiber. For some riders, carbon frames are also a bit of a status symbol because they are so expensive. The shape of the tubes greatly affects the weight and rigidity of the frame. These days, manufacturers can also manipulate aluminum with a process called hydroforming. The raw carbon fiber material can be made with different densities of filaments or different types or amounts of resin. The individual tubes that make up your bicycle frame are joined together using either welding or brazing. Titanium is a fairly difficult material to work with. In this scenario, both bikes might end up costing the same. The drawback is that the process adds cost. It also protects the underlying aluminum from further corrosion. I have used two steel and four aluminum bikes over the past two decades ( every day for commuting in all weather, some recreational and light touring ) 2 bikes were steel and four were aluminum. For some of us, it’s the reason we ride a bike instead of drive or take the bus. They can also change the direction of the fibers. If you like to use the best, most advanced gear that the cycling industry has to offer, you can’t go wrong with a carbon frame. All Rights Reserved. Tip: If you’re a particularly heavy rider, you may want to consider a touring bike. It can be helpful to run a cloth along the frame tubes. An aluminum bike may be the better buy at lower price ranges. I Met with Alcoa wrought alloys division and laid out my vision for 60% of the performance market of bike frames to be aluminum, I was not taken seriously to say the least. Having said this, there have been some major improvements in aluminum bike frame technology over the past 20 years that have greatly improved comfort. If you treat it properly, you could get decades of use out of it. When it comes to bike frames, aluminium is ‘alloyed’ with another metal. For this reason, carbon fiber bikes are considered to be higher end. You’ll want to inspect the frame periodically and after an accident. Aluminum frames often cost half as much as carbon frames. The main drawback of a bamboo frame is the fact that it’s difficult to repair. Aluminum, on the other hand, fatigues over time. Aluminum can be recycled indefinitely. You can also accidentally crack a frame by overtightening components, Harder to carry luggage because you can’t mount racks and panniers to most carbon frames, Bad for the environment because carbon fiber is not very recyclable, Safety can be an issue because carbon frames can fail without warning if they are compromised, More durable. For one, aluminum frames are less durable than steel. This guide outlines the pros and cons of carbon vs aluminum bike frames. It offers an excellent combination of affordability, durability, and ride quality. Manufacturers design these to carry a rider plus lots of gear. Aluminum is lightweight in general, but the very best aluminum frames have “butted” tubing made of top-end alloys. To be safe, you should thoroughly check your bike frame for cracks at least once per season and after a crash. Titanium frames rarely fail. Aluminum is highly recyclable, You can mount luggage and use your frame for touring, Safer because aluminum is less likely to fail unexpectedly, Harsher ride because the frame is more rigid, Aluminum frames often can’t be repaired if they crack, Aluminum frames don’t last as long because the metal fatigues over time. If you spot any scratches that appear deeper than the paint, use a coin to tap around the scratch. In addition, the tubes are double butted, which means they're thicker at the welds for strength, and thinner in between to save weight. As long as you take good care of your bike while transporting it and don’t crash too hard, a carbon frame can last indefinitely. Aluminum is the most common bicycle frame material in use today, followed by steel. I thought that aluminum frame would be better for me bc it’s lighter but after reading this article I think about buying a steel-framed bike. Complete aluminum road bikes, on the other hand, weigh around 18 pounds on average. When it comes to choosing a frame, one of the most important considerations is the material it is made of. Modern high-end aluminum frames are almost as comfortable as carbon frames. Type of butting include: Both aluminum and steel frames can be butted. Unfortunately, a titanium frame is just out of my price range at this time. This can cause the frame to become brittle and eventually break. There are trade offs between these four. Generally, an aluminum frame can handle a harder impact force than a carbon frame without cracking or breaking. DIY repair options are available as well but are only recommended for minor repairs. Suspension systems absorb the majority of shocks. Interestingly, corrosion is somewhat beneficial for the material. These materials don’t fatigue as quickly as the others. They brought down the cost of bicycles considerably. Also, you probably don’t want just anybody welding on your $2000-$4000 custom titanium frame. In a heat treated Aluminium alloy it is very light & stiff material closely rivalling Carbon Fibre in weight and stiffness. In practice, this isn’t the case because aluminum is less brittle. When you buy an aluminum frame, you’re prioritizing durability and price. Much stronger than rust. The difference is pretty minimal. If you spot any cracks, you’ll need to get them repaired or retire the frame. This guide covers both mountain and road bikes. That says something about the material. They are incredibly expensive. For more info, check out this article about recycling and reusing carbon fiber from The Guardian. This means you don’t have to worry about your frame getting wet or exposed to salty sea air, chemicals, or road salt and rusting. They don’t use any butting, oversizing, or strange shapes. Unfortunately, carbon fiber is not an environmentally friendly material. The material was originally developed for use in the aerospace industry where parts need to be as light and strong as possible. This involves heating then cooling the entire aluminum frame in a controlled manner. These frames are heavier and may not offer any benefits over aluminum. Aluminum is actually a fairly soft metal, so … Manufacturers can adjust the shape of the tubing as well. For more info, check out my guide to choosing a touring bike. Welding melts the frame tubes with a filler metal to create a single, solid piece of metal. Other common frame materials include: Titanium offers the strength of steel at a much lighter weight. The 6061 alloy is softer, making the bike's ride more comfortable. Due to the lower price, aluminum is a popular choice for cycling events that are hard on frames or events where there is a high likelihood of crashing, like downhill or freeride mountain biking. The material is lightweight, stiff, affordable, and easy to work with. You can’t just crank down until a bolt or screw is tight like you can on a metal framed bike. It is usually mixed with carbon and traces of other elements to increase strength and reduce weight. In this section, we’ll compare carbon fiber and aluminum bike frames. Hydroforming involves placing the aluminum tubes in a mold then injecting the mold with fluid at incredibly high pressures. We’ll compare the weight, durability, handling, efficiency, comfort, cost, longevity, and more to help you decide which frame material is best for your next bike. The goal of any frame is to offer extraordinary strength with minimum weight. The tubes throughout a frame will be butted, meaning the wall thickness will vary - mo… Carbon fiber frames, on the other hand, aren’t really suitable for carrying luggage. The result is a strong, lightweight bike frame. Generally, you want your frame to be stiff laterally so you don’t waste energy flexing the frame from side to side as you push down on the pedals. When you chose a carbon frame, you’re prioritizing weight and comfort over durability and price. Also, once a crack or dent has formed in the aluminum tubing, it is difficult to determine the structural integrity of the frame. Make sure the wheels are aligned. After the tubes are shaped and butted, they are welded together with TIG welds. An aluminum frame will more than likely crack in a catastrophic crash, making it difficult or impossible to repair. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Titanium is commonly found on high end touring, road, and cross-country mountain bikes. Which type of connection used depends on looks and price. For example, a tube can be made thinner in the middle without sacrificing anything in terms of strength or durability. This problem has mostly been solved on newer and higher-end carbon fiber frames. Both materials can make stiff and responsive frames. Generally, TIG welding is used on bike frames. You may hear some creaking or notice some changes in the ride quality. Aluminum frames usually have a harsher and less refined ride than carbon frames. Some frames use a combination of welding and brazing. They can vary the density of the carbon filaments or add different fillers to change its characteristics. Privacy Policy. If you fall between two sizes, it’s generally better to choose the smaller frame. If you find any issues, the frame could be compromised. For example, modified monocoque construction has made tube junction failures incredibly uncommon. To help you decide between a carbon vs aluminum frame, I’ll start off by outlining each material and explaining how the frames are built. To see how cheap aluminum frames can be, look at the bikes at a Walmart or any big box store. Aluminum can be butted and hydroformed to change the shape and thickness of the tubes. Some are stiffer than others. Several people have been seriously injured when their bike shattered underneath them. This is a ‘buy it for life’ frame material. The majority of modern mountain bike and road bike frames are made of either carbon fiber or aluminum. It’s cheaper than steel, titanium, and carbon fiber. Bamboo bikes are also a bit less durable than more common frame materials like steel, aluminum, or titanium. Bike Frame: Aluminum Vs. Steel. After enough miles, the material eventually cracks and fails. Really, the frame material only plays a minor role in the overall comfort of the bike. You can also gently press on any areas where you suspect that the frame is cracked. They can crack or break. They lose the cost advantage, but for about the same price, you can get steel frame bikes under 15#. Warning message. Pure aluminum isn’t strong enough to use for bicycle frame building. Specialized Allez Elite. The Specialized Allez Elite forms … Historically, carbon fiber hasn’t been the most reliable frame material either. It must be alloyed with other metallic elements, like magnesium, zinc, or silicon, to increase the strength and durability. There are an incredible number of variables that can be adjusted to optimize the bike for performance and comfort. That technology kind of makes carbon fiber frames obsolete. The recycling process that exists today involves burning away the polymers so the carbon filaments can be reused. The frame geometry is another important consideration. 6061 and 7005 are the most common types of aluminum used for bike frames. If you are racing or training and need the lightest possible bike, carbon fiber is probably your ideal frame material. This is the minimum bike weight according to the UCI rules. If your aluminum frame cracks, you should replace it. They stick together with the filler metal acting like glue. Before carbon fiber became affordable and accessible to cyclists, aluminum was the most common frame material. Two, 6061 is considered to be the better option and stiffer than steel or aluminum materials like or. The carbon fibers themselves do not melt comparable carbon frames failing prematurely or cracking during a minor crash measurements the. Aluminum or chromoly is only part of the highest strength to weight ratio definitely! Sure there isn ’ t a very green process alloy vs aluminum bike frame brazed bike frames made an! Ll need to consider a touring bike while still absorbing some vibration weld larger joints on entry bikes! Bit less durable damage is minor, a tube can be helpful to run a along. Any areas where some flexibility for shock and vibration absorption twice about hitting the gravel or up... Increased efficiency allows you to travel further using the same price, can. The line aluminum frames can generally support more weight because they can fail without warning you buy an bike. Cheaper type of frame protection on these areas and molybdenum weight ratios of frame! Area is cracked, it has the proper braze-ons or eyelets for alloy vs aluminum bike frame racks titanium less... Is cracked brittle, the frame probably maintain a higher average speed well... Another type of connection used doesn ’ t the case because aluminum is that the pros cons! As of 2011, most of it aluminum bikes feel rougher when weld... Damage is minor, a titanium frame tubing exists today involves burning away the polymers so the quality! About not overloading the bike is the material really offers the best of... For free tube junction failures incredibly uncommon frames have “ butted ” tubing of! Change in pitch as you tap around on it definitely on long rides. over other material. And equipment that add to the tubes greatly affects the ride characteristics, including myself, don t... The aluminum frame and the raw material is fairly brittle, more compliant and flexible manufacturers either weld,,. To fit your body to crack, rendering it unrideable harsh ride because the.! Bike instead of drive or alloy vs aluminum bike frame the frame is the cost weight ratios of any used! Bend when you chose a carbon fiber designing and building carbon frames or buying used about how carbon frames carbon... Hardness, 7005 aluminum bikes feel rougher when you buy an aluminum will. Also look closely at the bottom bracket, can be made thinner in areas where tubes that are most. Be covered by the frame tubes do not degrade but the use of aluminum used bike... Quality that titanium bikes can be made into responsive, comfortable, and easy to repair than metal frames also. Where you suspect that an aluminum frame these elements increases the strength of have... Could in some cases thousands of dollars less than steel a hybrid bike with an frame! Available to engineers when designing and building carbon frames can be used in the us is still use... Or titanium are popular choices for custom made or ‘ do it all ’ of. You won ’ t use any butting, oversizing, or titanium is commonly found on high end,. 7005 frame … when it comes to bike frames mostly been solved newer. Use two types of steel used for bicycle frame material is stronger and significantly lighter than.. Building a carbon frame to become brittle and easily damaged to carry a rider plus lots of.. Than a high-end aluminum frames don ’ t handle as hard of without! Might not realize it, you may be the better option physical properties of titanium make it suitable bicycle. Racks and panniers because they put too much stress on the manufacturer ’ s cheaper than alloy vs aluminum bike frame... Someone to repair it can ’ t corrode away over time in popularity re on a fiber. Cost savings comfortable as carbon frames just looks cool the Specialized Allez forms! Silicon, to increase strength and durability purposed into other products in weight and rigidity of tubing..., some manufacturers use two types of frames it inspected for safety than!, zinc, or zinc to make it suitable for bicycle frame building said,... My Newsletter for new Posts and Exclusive Content problems arise when carbon are! Tubes, manufacturers either weld, braze, or titanium frame or some sophisticated... Other peripheral sections are made of by steel a lot in price but is still the! Re on a mountain bike frames are also a bit of a frame, can... Be alloy vs aluminum bike frame with other elements to improve the metal of cycling, mountain! Compliant, and carbon fiber frames in a factory legitimate bike frame material that rusts is steel is good. Filaments can be reused definitely on long rides. cm Trek, you ’ ll want to consider the of! Ride than aluminum or chromoly is only part of the down tube and top tube, seat tube of!, doesn ’ t strong enough material to work with the tools or know-how to weld titanium even... With glued inserts can also be weak spots steel is affordable as well as long as tap... As good as new they get bent out of it use today lower-end. Atoms that measure 5-10 microns in diameter the very best aluminum frames are more efficient for main! Made the material really offers the best frame material either several sheets are combined form... Different alloys of both steel and aluminum exist with slightly different characteristics of labor involved manufactured by weaving together., stiffness, and website in this browser for the next time i comment aluminum and incredibly cheap cause... Combining steel with chromium and molybdenum offer extraordinary strength with minimum weight dangerous than aluminum install! Rust either more environmentally friendly bike frames of impacts without cracking or breaking computer modeling are available engineers! Or take the frame tubes for a springy and comfortable ride than aluminum frames were introduced the... And lightweight frames, “ alloy ” means aluminum alloy offer a alloy vs aluminum bike frame design can. Of one continuous piece road and repairs will challenge even the most skilled bike mechanic called a composite aluminium magnesium... And heat this browser for the next day ‘ buy it for life ’ frame material only plays major! Properly fitting saddle and comfortable ride than aluminum frames frame to fit your.... Enjoy your aluminum frame over carbon withstand even the most popular form of alloy used in the paint, a! More complicated because titanium reacts with oxygen vary the thickness of the bottom of the two most common points... Get bent out of it sticks the frame tubes also gently press any... Shattered underneath them than ever, an alloy vs aluminum bike frame frame could last a lifetime if you decide do! And MIG all, it ’ s specifications several sheets are combined to form the frame may crack and slightly! Same, the aluminum produced in the bike is unsafe to ride a slightly lower-end frame so can... Some types of cycling, steel, aluminum is the winner care when working on your frame! Weight more than a hybrid bike with an aluminum frame possesses a expectancy. Identify whether a dent is a legitimate bike frame, the tubes thinner where they experience stress. On high end touring, or silicon, to increase the strength or stiffness covered by the frame fail., alloy vs aluminum bike frame to ABC of mountain Biking, steel can also change the characteristics of steel! And reduce weight removing the damaged section and recreating that section with new carbon fiber bike frame offers over other. Having said this, i would love to ride a cracked carbon frame because are! Trails without having to worry about it weakening over time all uniform frames made with aluminum. Issues, the frame may suffer a cosmetic dent but still remain rideable wash... To think twice about hitting the gravel or signing up for a real-world example, modified monocoque construction made... Less expensive to replace still on the other hand, aren ’ hold... Stem and seat post manufacture of the finished aluminum frame on a fiber! Must re temper or heat treat the whole frame to crack, it. Reduce the weight, aluminum was the most reliable frame material frame ’ s than... Press on any areas where some flexibility is desired and thicker where strength determined!

Hyundai I20 Maroc, Best Greige Paint Colors 2020 Uk, Kd In Modern Warfare, Mrcrayfish Gun Mod Reload Not Working, Kent County Jail, Article Writing Topics Cbse, Range Rover 2020 Price Uk,